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I saw an interesting bumper sticker: "Hug Your Kids at Home; Belt Them in the Car". (I don't know how well the pun on the word "belt" will translate in the Russian, Farsi and Portuguese editions of the Shabbat Shalom...) Obviously, the bumper sticker is a safety message to parents and not an invitation to child abuse. It is important to hug kids and to tell them "I love you!" I suspect very few kids in detention complain that their parents hugged them too much or told them too many times "I love you."

Physical contact is important for the well-being of kids (as well as other human beings...). I remember a psychological study from my college days of a post-WW2 orphanage in Romania where the babies were fed and changed, but never held. Virtually every child suffered mental retardation. So, I decided to share with you a fun game that I play with my little kids. It's called the "Rah Game." (We made it up.)

Here's how it goes: 1) the parent thinks of a spot on his face (i.e.., the end of his nose) 2) the child touches a spot on the parent's face (i.e.., the right eyebrow) 3) if it is the wrong spot, the parent makes a funny face. 4) the child tries again; if the wrong spot, the parent makes a different funny face. When the child touches the right spot, the parent says, "RAH!" Then they switch roles and the child thinks of a spot on his face and has to make funny faces. We have a variation on the game called the "Boo Game." It's just like the "Rah Game," but instead of "RAH!" you say "BOO!"

A child needs to feel loved and safe. I try to ask each of my children at least once a day, "Do you know who loves you?" By now they know that the first answer is "G-d" (G-d loves each of us even more than we love our kids! It's important for kids to know this.). Then I ask them, "And who else?" And the child replies, "Daddy and Mommy!" I hope after 120 years (the proverbial blessing for a long life -- because Moses lived until 120) that my children will sit together at the Shiva (the week of mourning) and talk about how their father drove them "crazy" with hugs and kisses and asking them "who loves you?".

Perhaps the most precious moments of the day are sitting with my children on their beds before they go to sleep. I and/or my wife hold them and listen to them say the Shema ("Hear O Israel, the Lord our G-d, the Lord is One" and the first paragraph following in the Siddur/prayer book) and the blessing before going to sleep. One says the Shema and the blessing to affirm trust in G-d and that He should watch out for you while you sleep. What a wonderful way to end the day for a child -- to be held and kissed by his parents and to go to sleep knowing that G-d is watching over him. (The Artscroll prayer book has the Bedtime Prayers in English and Hebrew. You can get it at your local Jewish bookstore or by calling toll-free 877-758-3242. By the way, as long as you're calling up to order the prayer book, buy a copy of To Raise A Jewish Child by Rabbi Hayim Donin; you won't regret it!)

The old saying goes that "no one ever said on his death bed, 'I wish I spent more time at the office'". There is no greater pleasure and no better investment in future pleasure than spending time with your children. Kids get the message loud and clear as to what your priorities are if you spend more time at work or on the golf course than with your kids. People talk of "Quality time" vs. "Quantity time" with their kids. Here's the truth: Quality time IS Quantity time! The more time you spend with your kids, the more your kids know that they are priorities in your life and that you love them!

Torah Portion of the Week
Bamidbar, Numbers 1:1 - 4:20

In the second year of travel in the desert, Moshe and Aharon were commanded by the Almighty to count all male Israelites between 20 and 60. There were 603,550 available for military service. The tribe of Levi was exempt because of their special duties as religious leaders. (It is probably from here that countries give divinity deferments to clergy and divinity students.)

The twelve tribes were directed regarding the formation (three tribes were on each side of the Portable Sanctuary) in which they were to camp and travel.

The 22,300 Levites were commanded in the Sanctuary service. The family of Gershon was to transport the coverings of the Sanctuary. The family of Kehos carried the Ark, Table, Menorah and Altars. The family of Merari transported the boards, pillars, bolts and sockets.

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states:

The Torah states, "And with you shall be one man from each tribe, each man should be the head of his family." (Numbers 1:4). What lesson about life is the Torah conveying with this verse?

A simple and boorish person who came from a distinguished lineage was arguing with a wise scholar who came from a non- distinguished family. The coarse ignoramus boasted about his illustrious ancestors. "I am a scion of a great people. Your ancestors are nothing compared to mine," he arrogantly boasted. The scholar retorted, "True, you come from a long line of great people. Unfortunately, the line ends with you. My family tree begins with me."

Rabbi Moshe Chaifetz, author of Meleches Machsheves, elucidates that this is the idea of our verse. Every person should be the head of his family's lineage. He should be an elevated person in his own right rather than depend upon the stature of his ancestors for his status and sense of self-worth. Our lesson: You should live your life so that your descendants will be proud to consider you their ancestor!

Lineage has been compared to a carrot -- often times the best part is in the ground. In truth, lineage is like the number "zero". If you make something of yourself you place a "one" before the zero. If you are a "zero" then all you have are two zeroes.

(or go to http://www.aish.com/candlelighting)

Jerusalem  7:00
Guatemala 6:09  Hong Kong 6:43  Honolulu 6:50
J'Burg 5:05  London 8:47  Los Angeles 7:39
Melbourne 4:52  Miami 7:48  Moscow 8:40
New York 8:01  Singapore  6:50


Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain, and most fools do.
-- Benjamin Franklin

With thanks to
Jerry and Perry Green
Anchorage, Alaska

Happy Anniversary!
Rabbi Eliot & Judy Pearlson